Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 12: Kind of An End

Bad guy neutralised, Kuze’s engagement sorted, and everything back to normal, yet the anime holds back on actually choosing one of the guys or giving us closure on all the villains.

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Compared to some anime this season, this was actually a pretty solid resolution. Kuze wanted to know where the tome came from that cursed her brother and that part of the story is effectively wrapped up in fairly quick order this episode. What is less clear cut is where the harem antics are going and what is next for the villains given those that survived are on their ship sailing somewhere when the curtain closes.

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While this ended up being better than I expected, it never quite gets to being good and it never quite manages to throw off the harem tropes that kind of weigh everything down and this final episode is a good example. We have a perfect opportunity for the heroine to make an actual choice and instead we leave it open so everyone and no-one can be happy with the solution. I was also a bit disappointed that when it came to the crunch the heroine needed the knight in shining armour to swoop in and save her because really she didn’t do much of anything to solve this.

Anyway, full series review coming soon.

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Karandi James

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 11: I Guess That’s A Twist

Episode 11 of Libra of Nil Admirari first gives us an “I am your father moment” before we get a revelation that what seemed like a totally superfluous character is actually also a bad guy. It almost makes you want to hum the ‘dum, dum, daaas’.

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Apparently taking down an evil cult is actually pretty easy once you set their building on fire and actually move in and arrest them. Realistically, the final moves against Karusu were pretty ordinary with the professor being the only one who put up much of a fight before he was taken down by the laws of poor slap-stick comedy. But there was a shadowy figure waiting in the background, apparently because there’s another episode to go and we just wiped out all our villains.

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I won’t say who, just in case there’s anyone out there who cares about spoilers for this anime, but realistically, think of a character who was introduced early on that has literally had no impact on anything (okay, that doesn’t actually narrow it down in the case of this cast). But whichever way, while I hadn’t suspected them, I’m not really surprised because at least it gives them a reason to exist. I guess the question remains whether Kuze will get herself out of trouble or be rescued in the final episode.

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Karandi James

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 10: Every Character Face Your Demon

With every character seemingly facing their tragic back story nemesis in one episode, it is hardly surprising that this episode feels a bit shallow as we jump from confrontation to confrontation with a pause in the middle for a cup of tea (not joking).

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I had the interesting experience of watching this episode when someone else was around. Interesting because they listened to the overly boppy opening with the smiling dancing characters and grimaced. Then the episode started and we have the villain essentially ranting about how he was going to force himself on Kuze and get her pregnant before he tried to do that. At this point I had to pause the episode because the sheer volume of questions getting thrown at me made watching impossible. And once again, it reminded me so clearly how totally wrong the OP is for this anime. We then got on with watching.

And what we watched were various pairs of characters confronting issues they’ve had for awhile. So Akira saved Kuze having finally decided to be on her side, though not really because he tells her to run while he does the hero thing, leaving Kuze wandering around the mansion that is both on fire and full of enemies and so naturally she stops for tea with the mistress of the house.  Clearly Kuze isn’t actually interested in being rescued and Akira could have saved himself the time. Later on Kuze catches up with Akira and Hayato, or they catch up with her being dragged into the subway, and we get a moment where it turns out Akira is the half-brother of the villain, etc, etc. It was a pretty flat revelation and when Kuze points out it doesn’t matter, I had to wonder if anyone had ever thought it did matter.

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We also get a confrontation with Migiwa and Shougo facing down the guy who was a writing pupil at the same time as Migiwa and who was an author Shougo liked, who also happened to write the book that ended up cursing Shougo leading to him attempting to kill himself. This was a more interesting confrontation but ultimately solved fairly tritely by Shougo pointing out that he wanted to read more books by the author. So sweet. Can we remember this guy writes books that kill people?

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Lastly, we have Hisui confronting the crazy professor guy who throws in the ‘I killed your mother’ card to send Hisui’s weird flame power a little out of control. I don’t know what he was hoping to gain from that but it was all a little cliche and then he ran away.

Meanwhile, the mansion is still on fire, no one has actually been arrested, as far as I can see not one villain is even detained yet, and the third party running around in the mansion hasn’t actually done anything except set things on fire.

In fairness to the episode, all of these elements make sense as part of the grander narrative, but the episode itself was pretty messy and unresolved and we’ll all just have to wait until next week to see what happens next.

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Karandi James

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 9: So, Master Plan Is To Breed?

I’ve been wondering for awhile if the villain had an end game and a reason for wanting to kidnap Kuze. Turns out all he wants is to breed and have little baby Kuze’s who can see auras and also want to end the world. Perfectly normal plan really.

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And someone please explain who is following this guy around with a spotlight while he delivers this terrible exposition.

Reporter guy who set himself on fire last week survived (surprise) and the traitor who was taken back in by Karusu turns out to just be chilling in a room and waiting around for a reason to break down the door with a chair. Meanwhile the Prime Minister is nearly assassinated, reporter guy’s notes point fingers at drugged up writers for creating fake cursed tomes, and ultimately Kuze gets kidnapped because despite being told to run away, she stands still and shouts the guy’s name over and over like somehow that will help.

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Now, in a fair defence of the episode, this was actually kind of exciting given they didn’t just wander around and look at book shops for the entire run time. However, for the plot as a whole, the reveal of why this guy’s been after Kuze just kind of fell completely flat. I get the whole starting a war thing to make Japan great again. That’s crazy, but there’s enough logic behind it that I could buy it as a villainous plot. But wanting to take Kuze to Europe to have his baby? Where did that even come from?

So, this series continues to be watchable enough but not good.

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 8: Even A Letter

Things continue to get darker in this anime as Kuze continues to work looking for cursed tomes and the bad guys apparently get even more obvious.

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After we ended last week with the traitor headed for a showdown with Karusu they essentially give us a pretty weak scene of him being overwhelmed by the sight of his own blood and then we just kind of move on and pretend that didn’t happen. Despite Kuze’s friends getting attacked left and right last week, this time we’re all just business as usual except now Kuze needs to be accompanied everywhere by one of the pretty-boys leaving me wondering if they just weren’t getting enough screen time.

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All of this is kind of wrapped around the story of the reporter looking into things and one of the clumsiest bits of foreshadowing so far this season. He and his kouhai go drinking and both say lines from books/films that are pretty much death-flags and laugh about that. Then we get Kuze being told that even a letter might become a cursed tome. Then we find out reporter guy has received a letter. All in the space of around ten minutes. There’s no time to build up to the end so even though it is actually quite a confronting scene there’s no real emotional payoff here. Its just another thing that happened and gives Kuze another reason to keep trying to track down cursed tomes.

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I’d kind of like this story to be redone but as an actual psychological thriller. I think there’s a lot of potential in the overall plot that is currently being watered down by its otome roots.

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Karandi James

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Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom Season 1 Series Review

Lots of cute guys, historical setting, swords, and a girl disguised as a boy in the middle of it all. Where have I seen that before?

Review:

This review is going to be a bit difficult to write. Mostly because this anime is fine and I actually think a lot of viewers will really enjoy it, evidenced by the fact that they made another two seasons of it and you find references to it everywhere on line and copious amount of fan art of the characters. I didn’t actually dislike this anime while watching it, but I also got to the end of it and kind of wondered if there had been some sort of point that I had just missed or if there was something about the characters I was supposed to remember because other than their designs they all seemed pretty much exactly the same. To the point where I would honestly struggle to match their names to their faces if I were forced to do so.

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Which makes it difficult to review. The music was fine. I’m not walking around humming any of the songs and to be honest I’ve forgotten what most of the background music was like, but the OP worked well enough and I never found the music a particular problem.

Visually it is very pretty, much like many of these kinds of anime. There’s a lot of time and attention put into character designs for a large cast of characters, though in this case that is only true of main cast members. Supporting members of the various factions are all very generic historically Japanese looking and they get routinely cut down and nobody cares. Scratch a main character and everyone will be up in arms, but run through three of the guys with the standard hair cut and nobody will even pause to watch them fall. Okay, that might be an exaggeration but it felt like that at times.

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My biggest issue with the visuals was they went to a lot of trouble to explain that the main heroine disguised herself as a boy but realistically at no point does the viewer think she might be a boy and every single character in the anime knows she isn’t a boy more or less immediately, so you have to wonder why they even bothered. Its another one of those plot points that seems there because someone at some planning meeting thought it sounded cool or added something but then they never did anything with it but they also didn’t edit it out. And yes, it is a historical anime so it kind of makes sense that she would need to disguise herself as a boy, but then they should commit to that and actually kind of make her look like a boy.

However, what really failed to sell me on this anime was the story itself. We’ve got classic historical moment going on and we jump from conflict to conflict getting a nice narration to tell us what the different groups are up to. And then we have some supernatural mumbo-jumbo that utterly fails to be interesting and doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story at all. Characters fight, they get injured, some change sides, some pretend to change sides, more fighting, occasionally they remember they are looking for her father, there’s some weird elixir that turns people into demon like things but not all of them because some manage to not go crazy, and then we kind of get to the end of the season where clearly things are going really poorly for them but that just leaves room for the sequel where they can maybe stage a comeback.

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I guess it is interesting to some but for me it just felt like it was going through its paces and as I never really got drawn into the characters I wasn’t that hooked by their comings and goings.

Overall, if you really like historical fiction with a bit of a reverse harem going on, there’s probably a lot you will enjoy about this one (though you’ve probably already watched it). For me, I’m not so sure I’ll get around to season 2, though I guess it might happen at some point. This wasn’t impossible to watch, it just didn’t leave much impact.


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Karandi James

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episodes 7: Oh No, Not Everyone is Nice

After an encounter with one of the guy’s obsessed with black feathers, Kuze is forced to deal with the reality that there is a traitor in their midst. Then again, this anime has a plot aimed at the Prime Minister of Japan and yet can’t stay focused on that for three seconds because there’s so many hot guys in the cast to watch eating curry.

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It’s amazing how this episode kind of meanders through its first half with a fairly pointless storyline just for the sake of re-establishing one of the characters who had kind of vanished into the background due to an over-clutter of too many pretty boys in the group. Which makes playing who-is-the-mole more or less a pointless endeavour given how obvious it becomes because why else bother with that whole first half. Not to mention, they reveal it before the end of this episode kind of puncturing any suspense that might have been built up given in under ten minutes they float the idea of a traitor and reveal who it is. Though, in the show’s defence, it isn’t exactly trying to be suspenseful and there’s a guy who can tear his shirt off to reveal a tattoo and his allegiance in a button popping sequence that kind of comes out of nowhere. Nice attention to detail on his abs though.

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All and all, this is kind of a mess of an episode covering about three episodes worth of content. We get the unplanned movie date as phase one. We get a short interlude with visit to the Prime Minister to remind us there’s actually a real plot here and we should pay some attention. There’s the curry cooking segment. The confrontation with the villain of right now, though we kind of have to remember he’s only one of several factions we’ve come across so far. Then there’s the crow’s feathers following the heroine segment before finally we get the traitor’s reveal. It’s too much and too shallow and it all just kind of happens.

That said, there’s still something quite interesting about the story here even if the delivery is somewhat lacking.

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Karandi James

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episodes 6: Tragic Back Story Time

Fairly standard plot development for this kind of anime. Focus on one guy and show us why he’s all damaged, have the heroine ‘rescue’ him and suddenly he’s all hers.

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Seriously, who stands like that staring at a feather?

This episode focuses on Hisui, though I’m not sure why given he’s probably been the least interesting character to date. And they decide to look at the origin of his eyes and hair however they really do push coincidence here. Just because a book was written by a prostitute from a certain region doesn’t mean it is going to have any connection what-so-ever to your lost mother but who am I kidding. Of course the book was written by his mother.

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Anyway, there’s a really long delay as they lead up to the revelation where Hisui gets the book and realises his mother loved him after all and then he pledges himself body and soul to Ruze, for reasons I still don’t quite get. She helped him find a book? It’s a pretty lacklustre episode and other than giving one or two glimpses at the potential villains of the series, doesn’t really accomplish much toward a grander narrative. Very much feels like a mid-season episode.

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episodes 2 – 5: Pretty Standard Harem, Poor Mystery

Having dropped SAO Alternative: GGO I decided to review this anime episode to episode. While it isn’t amazing, it has so far kept me more interested than Alternative and there’s definitely some potential here even if my hopes aren’t overly high.

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Episode 2:

A perfectly average second episode with  the full array of pretty boys being introduced to the protagonist before she goes on ‘patrol’. I kind of wondered what a book patrol looked like until I realised it meant just visiting bookshops for the day. I could get into that kind of job.

Of course she’s now living in a dorm with the entire cast of pretty boys all of whom are interested in her for whatever reason. They even introduced a boy who could be classed as the childhood friend given he apparently lived with her family a few years back. That said, while I’m still not excited for this one, it is perfectly watchable.

Episode 3:

Meet cute guy who respects your ability and he is definitely going to be part of the group who seem to have their own plans for the cursed tomes.  That’s about it for this episode when all is said and done but I’m guessing cute guy comes back.

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Episode 4:

New guy moved into the dorm and it turns out he’s the prime minister’s son who tried to kill himself after getting hold of a cursed tome on the same day as Ruze’s brother. He’s obnoxious for about half an episode before he thaws out and while he’s still clinging to the entitled master attitude, he’s already more or less besties with Ruze because that’s what happens in harem anime.

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Episode 5:

Time for the mysterious author Ruze is living with to be fleshed out and of course he has some tragic back story with a complicated relationship with his former writing teacher (who also conveniently committed suicide leaving behind a cursed tome). This anime, like many harems, relies heavily on coincidence. Ruze is living with the author her brother admires. She just happens to come across him on the street selling goldfish and is again with him when the police take him into custody. The police just happen to ask the guy who is good friends with them to look after the author when he goes to the toilet and of course he lets him escape, because why not.

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The problem with this anime isn’t that it is bad. The problem is that it is decidedly mediocre at everything it does. It has the ridiculously up-beat OP but a fairly bland tone overall. The ED focuses on hot guys reading books but accomplishes little. There’s moments of tragedy and death, but these are almost always brushed under the rug when the next scene features the characters drinking tea and being excessively polite to one another. All things considered, there’s a decent enough plot underneath all the window dressing here, but you really have to look for it in amongst the incredibly average presentation.

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Karandi James

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Libra of Nil Admirari First Impressions

Was I really in the market for another historical reverse harem? I’m still not sure about that, but here are my first impressions of Libra of Nil Admirari or Nil Admirari no Tenbin: Teito Genwaku Kitan or whatever else you want to call this.

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In a historical setting we have a girl who is being married off by her father to save the fortunes of the family (which are clearly in such a disarray that she can spend the afternoon shopping and buying afternoon snacks). However, that plot line quickly gets shelved (very hard to have an interesting reverse harem when the girl is already married off) and instead she’s going to join some “Imperial Library Intelligence Asset Management Bureau” – that is a mouthful and a half.

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There’s this whole thing about cursed hand-written books and after her brother attempts suicide Miss Compliant With Expectations and Wants Everyone To Be Happy can now apparently see auras around these books which is why she is recruited. Her decision to accept this offer is marked by her determinedly cutting her hair shorter though keeping a nearly identical style so from the front other than having less hair hanging over her shoulders makes next to no difference.

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That’s probably a good representation of the show. It is half-hearted in everything it does in this first episode. All the pieces are there for a bit of drama and yet it all feels paint by numbers and like it is missing the point. I’ll give this another episode but I already know I’m not exactly excited about this one.


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Karandi James

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